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TRAC: Asylum denial rates at 25-year low

September 03, 2010

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According to a new analysis of Justice Department data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), immigration judges are declining substantially fewer requests for asylum. Denial rates have reached the lowest level in the last quarter of a century, according to TRAC’s fifth annual monitoring report focusing on the processing of asylum requests by these specialized courts.

In fiscal year (FY) 1986, almost nine out of 10 (89 percent) of such requests were declined. During the first nine months of FY 2010, only half were turned down. The analysis of hundreds of thousands of case-by-case records also found that the total number of asylum requests has been falling, that a higher proportion of asylum seekers are now represented by counsel and that judge-to-judge disparities in denial rates remain a pervasive problem.

TRAC is a data gathering, data research and data distribution organization at Syracuse University. The purpose of TRAC is to provide the American people—and institutions of oversight such as Congress, news organizations, public interest groups, businesses, scholars and lawyers—with comprehensive information about staffing, spending and enforcement activities of the federal government. 

To read this latest report, go to: Also available are 253 separate reports covering individual immigration judges, updated through June 2010. These reports examine each judge’s asylum denial rate year-by-year, providing rankings and other comparisons with the denial rates of other judges. For judge-by-judge listings, visit

Over the past five years, this report series has been primarily supported by SU, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the JEHT Foundation, the New York Times Company Foundation, Public Interest Projects and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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